In an effort to highlight the young leaders who are leading undergraduate chapters across the nation, we at Watch The Yard reached out to the brothers of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.’s Mu Zeta Chapter at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and did an interview with Tyger McSwain the president of the chapter.
The position of president of an undergraduate chapter of a Black fraternity is a highly respected role and there is a special pride that one takes. 21-year-old McSwain has used the position to gain new leadership experience, improve the lives of other students on campus and help the community around him.
We interviewed the Philosophy and Political Science major and talked about his position, goals, future and what it means to hold a leadership on campus in the digital age.
Read the full interview below.
What does it mean to be a chapter president to you?
Serving as the President of the Mu Zeta chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. has been an honor. Leading this distinguished chapter has allowed me to inspire my brothers to reach greater heights and continue the legacy of those who were on the yard before us. While the role comes with a lot of responsibility, serving as president is one of the best decisions I have made in college and has contributed to my development and growth as a leader.
What made you decide to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for undergrad?
UNC-Chapel Hill is consistently ranked as one of the best public universities in the nation and offers top academic programs at an affordable price since I am an in-state resident. For me in particular, UNC-Chapel Hill has a strong Political Science Department where I learn from academics who excel in both research and teaching. Outside of academics, the social life at UNC-Chapel Hill is versatile and there are many things to depending on what you are interested in. Whether attending a game from one of our historic sports programs to hanging out with friends on Franklin Street you see there is no shortage of things to do. Additionally, the close proximity to Duke and NCCU also allows me to explore beyond my campus and get to know other college students in the area. At the end of the day, there’s nothing like our school pride and my time in college has been an enriching experience.
What specific initiatives is your chapter heading up this year and how do you think they will improve the campus/surrounding community?
One of our biggest initiatives this year is making sure that students are registered to vote. Primaries will be held at the national, state, and local level so we want to make sure that students are participating in the democratic process and using our voice in order to seek change. Additionally, we have events that are campus-specific such as a Town Hall with the new UNC Chief of Police that we are hosting in response to recent events that have raised safety concerns for students of color. Students seek transparency, so having an open conversation with campus leaders will close the divide between administration and students so we can bring us one step closer to creating that trust.
What made you want to pledge Alpha Phi Alpha?
I had some knowledge about greek life before entering college, but the men of the Mu Zeta chapter and the work they were producing is why I wanted to become an Alpha. I saw how they led the Black Student Movement, Carolina Union Board of Directors, Carolina Union Activities Board, among other influential roles and that were producing the type of impact I want to make while I am in college.
What is it about your specific chapter that makes it so unique?
Everyone holds their own chapter in the highest regard, but what makes the Mu Zeta chapter unique is the common goal to excel in our endeavors. Our chapter has existed for less than 50 years, yet you can find a brother in every field trailblazing in their roles. Not many people can turn on the TV and see a brother from your chapter on a nationally televised show. You know going in that there is a standard you must uphold and that encourages us to be our best selves and pursue our respective passions. Being complicit with the status quo isn’t acceptable and we all strive to raise the bar.
We now live in a digital world, what do you think undergraduate chapters across all orgs need to do to represent themselves online in 2019?
We need to continue to highlight the programming that we produce on our respective campuses and communities. Additionally, we have to show everyone that greek life is about more than strolling and parties, it’s about service and empowerment for our people. That being said, undergraduate chapters need to make it a priority to maintain an active online presence through social media, chapter websites and more in order to showcase the impactful work that we do.
What does leadership mean to you?
Everyone has their own management and leadership style. For me, being an effective leader means truly connecting with the group you are working with. It is very important to build a personal relationship with every individual so you can trust and respect one another. My main priority as a leader isn’t delegating and overseeing tasks, rather it’s making sure we are a cohesive group continuing to produce meaningful work. I want us to be open and honest with each other so we can be effective when addressing the good and the bad. If you do not have the trust of others, then you cannot be a successful leader.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom?
Watch The Yard is a unique platform that provides Black Greek-letter Organizations with a space to showcase the work, accomplishments, and endeavors of our organizations. The greek community spans far beyond what any individual can reach. Watch The Yard serves as the bridge between campuses nationwide. Connecting us to highlight the significant role Greek life has played to enhance the college experience for everyone.
What does brotherhood mean to you?
It’s a support system that is bigger than yourself. It means having each other’s back in any circumstance while holding them accountable We all desired and were selected to join a bond together in order to develop into better men. You won’t agree on everything, but at the end of the day, we love and want the best for one another.
What do you plan on doing after graduation?
After graduation, I plan on either working in Talent Aquisition or Diversity & Inclusion for a major company. I interned for a company this past summer and I learned that these are the areas that I am passionate about and play to my strength. I have always had a passion for helping people and providing others an opportunity to have a fair chance. More specifically, I am passionate about assisting the multitude of minority men and women who are underrepresented in nearly every field. I want to be that voice in the room that serves as an advocate and fights for equal representation in the workspace, and I believe that these areas of work empower me to do just that.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Tyger McSwain for his work as the president of Mu Zeta Chapter which has a long legacy that spans back to 1976.